🖊️

Instead of New Year's Resolutions, Try a Word of the Year

Essay Full Text - Typeshare Version

Instead of New Year's Resolutions, Try a Word of the Year

Choose a one word theme to guide you through the year ahead.

Twelve years ago, I started to build an annual planning routine that grounded me for the year ahead. A key to that was giving up New Year's Resolutions - which I had nearly always failed at by the end of January. Instead of resolutions, I began selecting a one word theme for the year. For the first time in 2022, I allowed myself two words - Simplify and Persist.

Selecting a one word theme is more free-form than setting New Year's Resolutions as it gives clear direction but is also something that can - and for me has - evolved and changed during the year.

The idea of selecting a one word theme is in no way unique. I believe I first stumbled on the idea through Ali Edwards and her crafting/memory keeping course One Little Word. I further refined my own process with Susannah Conway's annual "Find Your Word" workbook. Gretchen Rubin of the Happier podcast and her sister Liz Craft and writing partner Sarah Fain also talk regularly about their One Word Themes. Most recently, creator Ev Chapman has written some wonderful thoughts on how to get started with a one word theme.

There is no wrong way to select a word of the year other than to not do it. There is no way to fail at a word because it is not a goal or an item on your to do list. It's a lighthouse for your year - a point of safety to guide you through the year and help you navigate in both calm and turbulent waters.

image

Essay Full Text - Long Form on Medium

Instead of New Year’s Resolutions, Try a Word of the Year

Yesterday, I shared my annual planning ritual. Today, I’m starting a series of articles diving into the steps in that ritual in all their gory and beautiful detail. Today — selecting a word of the year.

Twelve years ago, I started to build an annual planning routine that grounded me for the year ahead. A key to that was giving up New Year’s Resolutions — which I had nearly always failed at by the end of January. Instead of resolutions, I began selecting a one word theme for the year.

At the end of each year, I add these words to my personal strategic plan document under guiding words. A word of the year, once selected, never leaves you. My past words have been: Create * Intention * Action * Authentic * Light * Thrive * Joy * Journey * Flourish * Balance * Flow * Breathe. For the first time in 2022, I allowed myself two words — Simplify and Persist.

Selecting a one word theme is more free-form than setting New Year’s Resolutions as it gives clear direction but is also something that can — and for me has — evolved and changed during the year. Sometimes, the word comes to me in September or October and other years, the word is sneaky and I have to spend a great deal of time uncovering what the theme will be for the upcoming year. Regardless of which it is, I find the process of thinking about and setting the word to be an enjoyable one each year.

The idea of selecting a one word theme is in no way unique. Here is list of how my one word selection process has been informed over the years along with some links to some excellent resources.

  • I believe I first stumbled on the idea through  and her crafting/memory keeping course One Little Word. I may have completed every prompt in her year long class one or two times but several of the prompts she offers have inspired me to do things like write a letter to myself about what I hope the word and I will accomplish in the year, looking up and writing down the definition, quotes and song lyrics, and antonyms/synonyms for my word.
  • I further refined my own process with ’s annual “Find Your Word” workbook. If I haven’t selected a word by the time I receive Susannah’s email announcing that Find Your Word is available, I use it to kickstart the process.
  • Gretchen Rubin of the Happier podcast and her sister Liz Craft and writing partner Sarah Fain (on the Happier in Hollywood podcast) also talk regularly about their One Word Themes on their respective podcasts. I appreciate the podcasts because they also help me to “keep my word visible” throughout the year — something else I learned from Ali Edwards and others. When Gretchen and Liz/Sarah discuss their themes on the podcast, I spend time reflecting on my journey with my word for the year. You can hear the latest episodes talking about their one word themes for Happier and Happier in Hollywood. The Happier show notes also include links to may of the previous episodes where they have talked about their themes.
  • Most recently, creator  has written some wonderful thoughts on how to get started with a one word theme. She helped me refine my own thinking about my word as a lighthouse for my year and she’s documented some wonderful ideas for how you can use your word. I particularly love her idea to use the word as a lens through which you choose what to consume during the year.

Once I choose a word for the year, I do a few things to help make it stick and keep it visible. You don’t have to do any of these. I do not do all of them every year. I just do what seems to feel good in that specific year.

  • Take Ali Edwards’ online class “One Little Word”. This is a fantastic way to document your journey with your word.
  • As I mentioned above, I sometimes write a letter to myself in December or January that outlines the journey I envision the word and I taking together in that year and how I think life will be different at the end of our year together.
  • Make your word visible. Buy letter stickers or a word sticker and put your word someplace you’ll see it. Write the word prominently (on a post it if you don’t want it permanently on that surface) and stick it on your mirror or in your car or inside of a notebook. Buy or make a one word theme necklace, bracelet, or sign. This year, my “persist” necklace pictured above will be a regular companion.
image
image
  • Set time with yourself each week or month to think about how the word has influenced your journey through the year.

There is no wrong way to select a word of the year other than to not do it. There is no way to fail at a word because it is not a goal or an item on your to do list. It’s a lighthouse for your year — a point of safety to guide you through the year and help you navigate in both calm and turbulent waters. Select it and do nothing intentional. I guarantee you will still see its influence in your year if you take only a few minutes to look for that influence.

Check It Out On Twitter 👇👇

Come join the conversation on Twitter, it's much more fun with friends.

image